Will Xander Cage Come Back for One Last Adventure? (Thoughts on the Possibility of a Fourth Film in the Series)

Nader Elhefnawy
3 min readMay 17, 2024

The Xander Cage (or XXX) spy-fi franchise has had rather a rocky history. Very much of the ’90s in its origins, bringing together as it did the American spy-fi boom and resurgence of the 007 franchise in that decade with the “extreme” craze, the idea behind it was to update the James Bond-style spy for “a new generation.”

The resulting, first, XXX film did well, but not that well (a $142 million domestic gross, it qualified only for 15th place on the list of the year’s top grossers), and the film’s star Vin Diesel walked away, the sequel proceeded without him (indeed, Diesel’s character Xander Cage was supposedly killed off), and flopped, after which plans for a third movie were, as I remarked in 2012, stuck in development hell.

What brought back the franchise back was the way that Vin Diesel’s career resurged largely on the strength of the second wind that the Fast and Furious franchise got with its fourth film (from which point it went from strength to strength through the next several films), which was in good part a matter of how well the movies were doing in the Chinese market. The peak of the series, Furious 7, saw the movie take in a sensational $1.5 billion worldwide, twice as much as the preceding movie that had previously been the series’ best performance, with more of that money actually coming from China than from North America, well as it did there. (The grosses in the two countries were $390 million and $353 million, respectively.)

The result was that that next XXX film finally happened — hitting theaters in North America in the dump month of January 2017, an expression of little confidence in the movie, but also the expectation that amid relatively weak competition it might clean up. It did not quite do that in Hollywood’s home market, taking in a mere $45 million — but making almost six times that much internationally, adding a bit over $300 million to the total with over half that ($164 million) coming from just China.

Accordingly we heard about plans for a fourth film — because back then it still made some sense to back a relatively costly film on the expectation of a big gross in China. However, seven years later any such film is still just being talked about, and it is not hard to imagine why. The disruptions of the pandemic apart, and the way that the Fast and Furious films’ decline cannot but suggest that Diesel having this kind of adventure is not the draw it was just a short time ago, franchise films generally are doing less well. Indeed, if we hear less about the decline of spy-fi than we do the decline of the superhero film that the commercial decline of that form is nonetheless real (you can see it in the gross of No Time to Die, of Mission: Impossible 7, of again those Fast and Furious films), while the XXX franchise was pretty marginal to begin with by its standard (Xander Cage never coming close to rivaling 007, Ethan Hunt or even, after he and his gang turned superspies, Dom Toretto), and the Chinese market that was so important to the last film’s profitability has become far less open to Hollywood.

The result is that all those factors that made a fourth film in the series a plausible business decision have vanished. On that basis one might think that as a result the franchise will not manage to escape development hell again. However, Hollywood’s determination to exploit every franchise far past the point of diminishing and even negative returns for lack of inclination to do anything else seems to only be growing more pathological. The result is that I cannot see the greenlighting of a new Xander Cage being a sound business decision on the part of the Suits — but then again, neither does a Twister 2 or a Gladiator 2 seem to be that, and both those movies are scheduled to come to a theater near you later this year.

Originally published at https://raritania.blogspot.com.

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Nader Elhefnawy

Nader Elhefnawy is the author of the thriller The Shadows of Olympus. Besides Medium, you can find him online at his personal blog, Raritania.